CD-adapco STAR user conference

13 May 2016

All CFD problems great and small were considered at CD-adapco’s user event. In the wake of the company’s announcement of acquisition by Siemens PLM, we sent Stephen Holmes to find out more

In a packed hotel on the edge of Prague’s Old Town, CD-adapco users from around the world, and nearly every industry imaginable, were prepared for three days of high computational conversation.

An array of product enhancements and programmes had clearly been planned for launch, before a large and extremely lucrative spanner had been thrown into the works:

Siemens had placed a bid to buy the company only a few weeks earlier for close to $1billion.

This news followed the death of former CEO, founder and all-round company figurehead, Steve MacDonald. Succeeded by Sharron L. MacDonald as interim president, she was keen to point out that the passing of the former head was not the catalyst for the sale, and that the acquisition process was initiated over 18 months previously.

It was disclosed that CD-adapco had arrived at a list of “three potential buyers” six months into the development. “We needed to have a buyer that complemented the culture at CD-adapco,” said MacDonald on stage, before adding the less romantic caveat that the price “had to be right!”.

From there the conference broke away from this overshadowing business and delved into some of the incredible projects currently running CD-adapco tools, starting with a keynote talk delivered by Landrover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

The Americas Cup yachting team that Whitmarsh oversees has been running vast amounts of CFD simulations on the craft it has designed, as it prepares to win back the trophy for Great Britain.

The yachts have changed so much in only recent years, that designers with competition experience have little advantage in today’s age of high powered simulation, composites technology and hydrofoils.

Building what amounts to a component kit, large elements of the Landrover BAR catamaran are swapped and adjusted right up to the start of the race depending on weather data and conditions information processed in the final hours to ensure the right parts are bolted on to the race craft.

Certified user program

Away from customer presentations the announcement of a new certified user program was of interest to many at the event.

Free to undertake, the scheme’s aim is to help users voluntarily demonstrate their competency at using STAR CCM+.

By standardising skill levels, it should allow users and employers to better understand the skills listed on résumés.

There was more insight into CD-adapco’s HEEDS software, which, as one of its fastest growing products, moves the company further into the realm of design optimisation.

Acquired from Red Cedar Technology back in 2013, the software is capable of improving the design of single components, or entire complex assemblies, with the versatility to accept almost any CAD file type.

With the advances in 3D printing finally catching up with simulation technology, CDadapco is rightly pushing HEEDS to the forefront of its offerings.

On the whole it looks like an interesting product for those looking at these trends, but who are limited to software that can integrate into existing workflows and work with tools currently in use.

Diverse presentations

The level of diversity is perhaps what makes the STAR user conference stand out from other simulation events for its 600 attendees.

BAE Systems tackled giant CFD models in demonstrating how it could increase the flow around the latest submarine designs using a CFD mesh of well over five million cells (jumping to a mammoth 11 million after refinement!), producing a design prone to less turbulence.

At the other end of the spectrum, students from the Technical University Wildau were simulating the flow of fluids around a 7x9x3mm micro bio reaction chamber.

The 150 microlitre cell is designed for testing cancer medicine on a patient’s blood cells, using multiple chambers to find out which treatments work best faster and without the need for in-body trial and error.

Air bubbles are the enemy of such devices, and the team from Wildau proved its use of CFD was helping them tackle the problem.

It’s hard to guess whether acquirement by Siemens will dull any of this variety, given the German Software giant’s focus on the big aerospace, automotive and power industries, but the wild assortment of speakers meant everyone took away something new.

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